If the next time I read something about Clayton Christensen is never then that will be too soon, but at least Jill Lepore’s takedown is characteristically excellent. In the short essay, she manages to pack in two points that I thought were particularly powerful. The first is that curated case-studies are a terrible way of developing a theory: essentially, they allow the theorist to choose only convenient examples. The second is that public-oriented institutions (e.g., schools, universities, museums) are of a different nature from for-profit widget-makers, and a theory developed around the widget industry is going to have dubious relevance at best for an institution whose “product” is (e.g.) education.

Obviously there’s more in the article than just these two points; someone who cared more about start-ups and less about academia might pull out different messages as key. Also, of course, Lepore is just a great writer. I particularly like the line “Ideas that come from business schools are exceptionally well marketed,” which I find understated but devastating.

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Brooklyn-Queens Day

Evidently it has been long enough that the Times does not feel silly running an explainer on Brooklyn-Queens Day.  As it turns out, this is a rare moment when Wikipedia is not helpful: the article was only created after the Times article.  I attended public school in Manhattan, so my main memory of Brooklyn-Queens Day is that the math team coach at Brooklyn Tech would always call the head of the math department at Stuyvesant and invite him out to lunch or a museum.  “Oh, wait, I forgot ….”

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Phenomenological seasons

At universities in the northern part of the United States, spring is the brief season in which the bicycle racks are full, following winter (when bicycle racks are covered in snow) and followed by summer (when the bicycle racks are empty but not snow-covered).


(The Wikipedia article is not very informative.)

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More OA: ridiculous journal names

Since I’m on the topic, today I received a spam e-mail to submit to an OA journal.  The e-mail was relatively professional, at least compared to the last one I mentioned here, but the journal name, American International Journal of Contemporary Research, is just too silly to avoid mentioning.

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Open access: Beall is a loon

Well, this is disappointing: Jeffrey Beall, the librarian who maintains a valuable list of predatory open access publishers (and accompanying blog), is a total lunatic. From a paper he wrote last year (appearing, of course, in an OA journal):

The open-access movement is really about anti-corporatism. OA advocates want to make collective everything and eliminate private business, except for small businesses owned by the disadvantaged. They don’t like the idea of profit, even though many have a large portfolio of mutual funds in their retirement accounts that invest in for-profit companies.

And so on. Not really much more to say about it; here are a few links with more discussion:
Wayne Bivens-Tatum
Stevan Harnad
Roy Tennant
Michael Eisen
Joseph Esposito


I’ve mentioned Beall once before here.  I stumbled across this particular piece of insanity while trying to make sense of a recent, incomprehensible post on Beall’s blog.  He didn’t allow my comment there, presumably because it was mildly critical and not attached to a real e-mail address; I include it here:

This post is very inside baseball. Here are a few of the questions that it raises for me as a reader: who in your audience do you expect to understand it? What does it mean for someone to be an “open-access bully”? Can it really be plausible that one of these people is “the sole champion” of green OA? Is there any meaningful connection between a request button on DSpace and OA, and if so what is it? Why should anyone care about this conversation? Is the final paragraph supposed to be a joke? (It doesn’t read like one, but I have trouble believing that it is meant in any serious way.)

Update: Ok, one or two of these questions can be answered by reading Harnard’s blog:

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Training for the future

Tomorrow’s Star Tribune is will run an article about how the Green Line has not yet transformed the neighborhoods through which it runs. The Green Line will start operating two weeks from now.

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Words to live by

My brother, on the topic of coalition-building:

In terms of left politics, it takes a village to raise a revolution, or something like that.

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